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Senior sports journalists announce departures as scale of cuts becomes clearer

The impact of the cutbacks at Reach plc has become clearer after two more senior sports journalists announced their departures from the publisher.

HTFP has already revealed how football writers and rugby league writers working under the Yorkshire Live banner had been told their jobs would be axed as part of the 450 redundancies announced last month.

Now, two more senior sports figures have revealed they are leaving the business, while one of those remaining has highlighted the scale of the departures by issuing a plea for support from readers on social media.

The majority of journalists who decided to accept the company’s voluntary redundancy terms are understood to have left their roles on Thursday, 30 November.

Joe Mewis, pictured when Leeds United won the Chamionship, has announced that he has left his role as football writer with Reach.

Joe Mewis, pictured when Leeds United won the Chamionship, has announced that he has left his role as football writer with Reach.

One of those to depart, Laura Hartley of the Liverpool Echo, had been women’s football editor, despite assurances from Reach plc bosses that it “remains committed” to coverage of women’s football.

The National Union of Journalist had claimed the publisher planned to ‘dismantle’ women’s football coverage but Reach insisted it would continue to be provided by its remaining football writers.

Laura, who was also content editor at @LivEchoSport, wrote: “My time at Reach is coming to an end after almost eight years.

“After starting out as a trainee reporter at my home city’s Coventry Telegraph, I’ve done so much from social media, audience engagement and women’s football editor.

“The time has now come to take that leap of faith. I’m not sure what’s next. More solo travelling for sure I’m now open to expanding my horizons, considering sports and travel journalism.

“DMs open for any opportunities on a full time and freelance basis.”

Also announcing his departure on Thursday was Joe Mewis, football content editor for ChronicleLive, LeedsLive, GazetteLive, YorkshireLive and HullLive.

He was one of the key figures who helped to launch LeedsLive in its earliest days and covered the Elland Road club’s rise to the Premier League.

Said Joe: “Like a lot of people, today’s my final day working for Reach Plc. I’ve had a blast over the past ten years, from being a part of the mid-2010s @MirrorFootball dream team to getting LeedsLive up and running during an unforgettable time for the club.

“Having front row seats for the Bielsa era, being in *that* Spygate presser, promotion, an Elland Road trophy lift, etc alongside @BerenCross was the stuff of dreams before more recently helping a brilliant team from across Yorkshire and the NE get their content out.

“Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with and to everybody who’s helped out along the way. Going to miss it all.

“New challenges await (get in touch if anyone wants to collaborate!), but first a proper Christmas off with the family and being able to get my #LUFC fan hat back on.”

Last week HTFP revealed how Nathan Hemmingham and Ricky Charlesworth, who covered Sheffield United and city rivals Wednesday, had both been made redundant, while the rugby league roles covering Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull FC were also being scrapped.

Steven Chicken, Huddersfield Town reporter for the Examiner and Yorkshire Live, also left last week.

On Thursday, Baz Cooper, Hull City reporter for the Hull Daily Mail and its associated website HullLive, highlighted the tough times currently being experienced on the sports desk in Hull and across the Reach group.

He wrote:  “We’re losing some top folks across our sports department today. The industry is struggling, we’re all battling hard and working our nuts off to keep our jobs and bring you the best stuff we can, so your support is more valuable (and appreciated) than ever.

“Our clubs are the beating heart of the community and matter to so many of you. We’re doing our best to do that honour justice all day (and night) every day, so please just keep reading and interacting. #hcafc”

Reach has not responded to requests for further comment on the changes to sports coverage.